Budget Conscious Consumers Will Pay Down Debt, Build Emergency Savings in 2013, According to American Consumer Credit Counseling Survey

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Retirement savings and home purchases seen as lower priority among financial goals for the new year

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Americans are still on edge when it comes to the economy – especially at a time when government leaders in Washington are giving us little reason to be optimistic about their ability to solve large-scale fiscal challenges

American consumers with tight household budgets say their top financial goals for 2013 are paying down debt and building up an emergency fund, according to a new survey by American Consumer Credit Counseling. Those priorities mean critical long-term goals such as retirement savings are being tabled or deferred, with saving for home purchases also taking a back seat to achieving immediate financial stability.

The Web poll of 217 consumers – conducted at ConsumerCredit.com – found 64 percent of all respondents plan to pay down debt in 2013. That was far and away the top financial goal among all those surveyed. Just fewer than 20 percent said they will focus on building up an emergency fund in the New Year, while close to 8 percent will try and save for a home.

“Americans are still on edge when it comes to the economy – especially at a time when government leaders in Washington are giving us little reason to be optimistic about their ability to solve large-scale fiscal challenges,” said Steve Trumble, President and CEO of American Consumer Credit Counseling. “It’s no surprise that consumers who are vigilant about keeping an eye on their household finances want to cut debt and accumulate some cash reserves. Those should be important priorities for anyone.”

But Trumble cautioned that some households may be at risk of getting far behind in important longer-term savings goals – primarily setting aside an adequate portion of their incomes for retirement. The survey found less than 5 percent of all respondents said retirement savings will be an important goal in 2013. Of those, not a single respondent in the 18-35 age demographic said retirement savings is a priority in the new year.

“When the stress of making ends meet means people can’t save for retirement, we are risking a perilous financial future because of the obligations we have today,” Trumble said. “Consumers should prioritize retirement savings as soon as they can after establishing a reserve fund and getting their debt under control.”

While the U.S. housing market continues to show strong signs of recovery, respondents said home purchases are currently a low priority. However, it is not clear from the survey – which found just under 8 percent reporting saving for a home as a key goal for 2013 – to what extent that is attributed to consumers simply not being in the market for a home.

Student loan debt – which represents an escalating national crisis for many households – was also not a high priority among those surveyed by ACCC. Less than 4 percent of all respondents said paying down student loans is an important goal in 2013.

ACCC is a 501(c)(3) organization that provides free credit counseling, bankruptcy counseling, and housing counseling to consumers nationwide in need of financial literacy education and money management. For more information, contact ACCC:

     • For credit counseling, call 800-769-3571
     • For bankruptcy counseling, call 866-826-6924
     • For housing counseling, call 866-826-7180
     • For more information on financial education workshops in New England, call 800-769-3571 x1980
     • Visit us online at ConsumerCredit.com

About American Consumer Credit Counseling
American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to empowering consumers to achieve financial health through education, counseling, and debt management. ACCC provides individuals with practical solutions for solving financial problems and recognizes that consumers’ financial difficulties are often not the result of poor spending habits, but more frequently from extenuating circumstances beyond their control. As one of the nation’s leading providers of financial education and credit counseling services, ACCC works with consumers to help them with the best plan of action to reduce their debt and regain financial stability. ACCC is accredited by the Better Business Bureau and holds an A+ rating. It is also a member of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies. For more information or to access free financial education resources log on to ConsumerCredit.com or visit TalkingCentsBlog.com. Follow ACCC on twitter @TalkCentsBlog.

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